Sep 10th, 2018
Top 20 Golf Course Curios: Part1
The weirdest stuff to be found on the links
1. Bud, Sweat & Tees
The par-three 16th at Sentry World Golf Course in Wisconsin is known as the Flower Hole. Unique in world golf, it does exactly what it says on the tin. Surrounding the green are acres of kaleidoscopic flowerbeds, lovingly lit up with over 60,000 individual varieties. What makes this tight little hole just that little bit tougher is a local rule which declares that the flowers must be treated as a water hazard – so no rolling up your trouser legs and braving the shallows. You’ll never look at a bunch of daffs the same way again.
2. Sand Trap
The Shadow Creek course forms a perfect rectangle of lush green in the midst of the Nevada Desert. Casino mogul Steve Wynn built the course at near-infinite cost in the searing desert 12 miles outside Las Vegas, and kept it all to himself for years.
Now, though, it’s been opened up to any high-roller with a few thousand dollars to burn at the tables. What must it be like then to first of all play this crazy manmade Star Trek-type track in the middle of the desert – and then watch as an imported wallaby pops your ball into its pouch? We kid you not.
3. Getting Medieval
It was a round at Market Harborough Golf Club in Leicestershire that gave us the idea for this feature. A map of the course clearly shows the ‘old’ first nine and the ‘new’ second nine, added some 20 years ago – with a curious strip of no-man’s land left between the two. Hooking spectacularly out of bounds on the wildly sloping 15th, my ball was last seen disappearing into a strange pattern of earthworks. “You’re in the deserted medieval village,” my playing partner smirked. “Maybe a deserted medieval villager will chuck it back,” I hoped. But they never did.
4. Boxcar Hilly
These days, there’s no one left alive who knows the truth about the seventh hole at Lawsonia Links in Green Lake, Wisconsin. And even if there is, they ain’t tellin’. What’s certain is that the 161-yard par three is a nightmare to hit, with a vertiginous 20-foot slope guarding the front of the green and a nasty grassy hollow at the back. Half the guidebooks on this matter state that when the course was built between the wars, an old railway boxcar was buried to give the green instant elevation, while the other half use words like ‘allegedly’. We’re with the boxcar brigade.
5. A Wing And A Prayer
Situated in the shadow of Gangkhar Puensum – the highest unclimbed summit in the world – is the Royal Bhutan Golf Club at Thimphu. In keeping with multi-coloured prayer flags fluttering on every ridge, there are also devotional chortens dotted about – small stone structures that house fragile religious artifacts. The idea is that you toss your spare change into an earthenware pot, and Buddha might give you a helping hand up the punishing slopes. Hackers have been known to offer up wads of cash, as have golfers who were expecting a landscape more akin to the Himalayas putting green at St Andrews.